AHMEDABAD, India, (Reuters) – Ricky Ponting’s battling century could not prevent another blot on his captaincy record but the Australian walked into the World Cup sunset knowing he had at least salvaged his batting reputation.
Back home, the clamour was growing for his removal and a day before the quarter-final defeat by India, Ponting was busy quashing retirement rumours sparked by a string of low scores in the tournament.
The 36-year-old batsman did not want to leave one-day cricket’s biggest stage without a last hurrah.
His 30th ODI century — a 118-ball 104 against India on Thursday — may not rank among his best but it bore the hallmark of his characteristic belligerence.
Having led Australia to three Ashes defeats, Ponting also presided over their spectacular demise as ODI world champions after a remarkable 12-year reign that ended in what he reckoned was his last World Cup match.
“As things turn out, it could be my last World Cup game. If I end up having made a hundred in my last World Cup game, then I guess I can be pretty happy at the end of the day,” Ponting told reporters.
But the pain was written all over his face when asked if he felt like a tragic hero since his ton failed to lift his team to victory.
“I don’t know how to answer that question. I’m not a tragic hero. I’m not feeling much of a hero right now,” he said.
“This is not the first time I’ve got a hundred and we lost. It happens.”
It, however, did not happen in the 2003 final — last time India and Australia met in the World Cup — when Ponting’s blistering century earned his team the title.
He disagreed Australia’s days at the top ended with the defeat.
“I don’t think so. It’s premature to say that it was an era in cricket,” he said.
“We are still a very competitive side… we lost our last two games in this World Cup. I’m disappointed about that. I think we are probably a better game than we showed in the last two games.”
Ponting, who has accumulated more than 25,000 international runs, made it clear that he is not interested in retirement talks.
The Tasmanian even mildly rebuked a journalist for asking if he would give retirement a re-think after the defeat.
“Nothing has changed,” he asserted.